Energy & Environment

News and information about energy, environment or both from Charlotte and the Carolinas. 

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Duke Energy electric pickup
David Boraks / WFAE

Thinking about getting rid of that gas-guzzler in your driveway? A lunch-hour display of electric vehicles at Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center Monday offered options - from small utility vehicles to luxury Teslas.

Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Federal officials plan to reduce the territory of the world's only wild population of red wolves to parts of a single North Carolina county under a revamped management plan.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the new footprint for the program will take effect around the end of 2017 under the plan announced on Monday.

Officials also announced that they plan to mix wild wolves with those in a captive breeding program to boost the species' overall population.

  One  of the world's largest investment funds is selling all its Duke Energy bonds and shares. The government of Norway's pension fund has been a major Duke investor. But lately it's been divesting from companies that make money by mining or burning coal.

Companies would be able to contract for solar or wind power with third parties under the new Duke Energy program.
DUKE ENERGY

Duke Energy's commercial energy division has bought six solar projects in Georgia. Duke Energy Renewables acquired the sites from solar developer SolAmerica Energy of Atlanta for an undisclosed sum.

tropical storm hermine
NOAA

  When forecasters began issuing their predictions for the current hurricane season several months ago, they said it likely would be more active than normal.  

In August, four "named" storms formed in the Atlantic basin, and one of them - Gaston - became a major hurricane.  Hermine, reached hurricane status for a time Thursday, before making landfall in Florida.  

The Conservation Fund and private donors have assembled about 2,700 acres of land north and west of Mount Mitchell that will become part of the park. Here's a springtime view from Mount Mitchell.
David Boraks / WFAE

Century-old Mount Mitchell State Park is getting ready to expand. State parks officials are working on a big land purchase, with the help of a national conservation group and private donors, that will double the park’s size.

A worker delivers bottled water to a home in Belmont, near Duke Energy's Allen coal plant. Duke will provide a permament drinking water supply to well owners by 2018.
David Boraks / WFAE

State environmental officials are notifying owners of private wells near Duke Energy coal plants that they'll be getting new permanent water supplies or home water filters by late 2018.

Aerial view of Duke Energy's solar farm in Conetoe, N.C.
Aerophoto America

Duke Energy has reached an agreement with developers of large solar farms that could limit where they build in North Carolina.  But officials say new procedures won't slow the growth of solar here.

The $180 million project would include a 21-mile pipeline from Norwood, in Stanly County, to Union County.
Union County

Union County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. It added 21,000 residents between 2010 and 2015. To keep growing, it needs more water. A public hearing is planned this Thursday, Sept. 1, on the county's plan to tap a new water source - Lake Tillery, on the Yadkin River.

Duke Energy wants answers on how testimony by a state toxicologist was leaked to the Associated Press three weeks ago. Duke believes an environmental group is responsible, and wants a court hearing on the matter.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy has asked a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, to review its request for a longer license to manage about 300 miles of the Catawba River in North and South Carolina.

Duke Energy's G.G. Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie in Gaston County
Aaron Hartley / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Some well owners near coal plants say the resignation of North Carolina’s epidemiologist confirms what they’ve been saying for months: their water is not safe to drink.

Amy Brown of Belmont lives near Duke's Allen Steam Station and has been receiving bottled water since 2015. She spoke at a rally in March.
David Boraks / WFAE

This week Governor Pat McCrory's office accused a state toxicologist of lying under oath. That came after that toxicologist testified in a lawsuit to force Duke Energy to remove coal ash from one of its North Carolina plants. The testimony has ignited another round of debate over whether well water near Duke coal plants is safe to drink. WFAE environmental reporter David Boraks talked with All Things Considered host Lisa Worf about the news.   

Profits at Duke Energy were lower in the second quarter compared with a year ago, mainly because of a write-down as it prepares to sell its international business. But executives say Duke's main U.S. operations are strong.

Drawing shows design for the W.S. Lee Nuclear Plant in Cherokee County, S.C.
Westinghouse Electric Co./Duke Energy

Duke Energy is another step closer to winning approval to build a new nuclear power plant in South Carolina. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday it has completed the final safety evaluation for the proposed William States Lee plant in Cherokee, near Gaffney.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

 A beetle known as the Emerald Ash Borer has killed hundreds of ash trees at two land preserves in Lincoln County. The beetles have been in North Carolina since 2013 and are spreading across the state. 

Illustration of Duke Energy's $1 billion project, which calls for two new gas-fired units in Asheville. The current coal-fired plant will be retired by 2020.
Duke Energy

 Updated 4:55 p.m.
Regulators have dismissed an appeal by two environmental groups that wanted to halt a Duke Energy power plant project in Asheville. The N.C. Utilities Commission says NC WARN and The Climate Times failed to post a $98 million bond required for the appeal.

But the battle may not be over. The environmental groups say they'll take the issue to the state Court of Appeals.  

Map shows high temperatures for the mid-Atlantic region. Bright yellow signals temperatures in the 90s.
National Weather Service

With temperatures soaring last week, Duke Energy customers in North and South Carolina set a record for summertime energy use. Duke says customers used 20,671 megawatt hours of electricity between 4 and 5 pm on Wednesday, July 27. That beat the previous record of 20,628 megawatts set in 2007.

David Boraks / WFAE

If you're on a North Carolina mountaintop on a sunny day this summer, expect a great view…  maybe the clearest in decades. State environmental officials say it’s the payoff from years of air quality improvements.

 A geologist with decades of expertise in climate change and coastal erosion has resigned from the state science advisory panel he helped found. Stan Riggs says politics have made the panel "ineffective."

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